Union Says Information Lacking on EU Hen Welfare Rules

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - The Ulster Farmer's Union (UFU) has criticised recent meetings held by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) aimed a providing producers with information on the EU directive on hen welfare.
calendar icon 15 February 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

UFU has expressed its frustration at what the egg industry sees as a waste of time and resources. A number of egg producers have contacted the UFU after having received a visit from DARD that was intended to provide producers with useful information on the Welfare of Hens Directive. The Directive will prohibit the use of conventional cages for egg production after 1 January 2012.

UFU Poultry Committee chairman, John McLenaghan, said: "Unfortunately, feedback from these visits has shown that this exercise has been far from informative. The Welfare of Laying Hens Directive, or cage ban as it is commonly known, is fast approaching. Complying with this legislation will cost individual egg producers hundreds of thousands of pounds and therefore producers are faced with some extremely difficult decisions about the future of their business. Egg producers are all too aware of the detail of this directive and the changes it will require."

Commenting on egg producers feedback about the DARD farm visits, Mr McLenaghan added: "Why was it necessary for the DARD official to sign a form saying he had witnessed the hand-over of this information booklet? Many felt there was an ulterior motive for the whole exercise. DARD's resources would be better directed towards finding a workable solution to the problem.

"The UFU have contacted DARD Chief Veterinary Officer, Bert Houston, to express these frustrations and to encourage him to consult the industry in future to assess the cost benefit of such visits. We are consistently informed that budgets within DARD are limited. Why then are resources being spent on training DARD staff to carry out farm visits that to date, industry feel have done nothing to inform or assist egg producers in any way? Surely DARD's limited resources could be channelled towards action that will actually benefit egg producers.

"The UFU met with DARD Minister, Michelle Gildernew in October 2009 to highlight the problems being faced by the industry at this time. We were well received by the Minister and are grateful for the work that her officials are doing to try to assist the sector. The two most immediate concerns for egg producers are money and time. Taking into consideration the bird production cycle producers, birds placed in conventional cages post-autumn 2010 could be in breach of the legislation and therefore producers have to find funding for conversion before this date."

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